China set to ratify extradition treaty with Turkey, Chinese legislator says
- Deal signed in 2017 but yet to receive parliamentary approval is seen by Beijing as central to its counterterrorism efforts, expert says
- China’s foreign affairs vice-minister has lashed out at East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which Beijing blames for violent attacks in Xinjiang and elsewhere
The treaty has yet to be ratified by either side, but past practice suggests China will do so within days of Zhang’s report.
Li Wei, a counterterrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, said: “Counterterrorism will be an important part of the treaty, as both countries have faced threats from terrorism for a long time.”
But it was unlikely the agreement would include clauses that singled out any specific organisation or group of people, he said.
But China has doubled down in its defence of such policies. On Tuesday, Luo Zhaohui, vice-minister for foreign affairs, lashed out at the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which Beijing has repeatedly blamed for violent attacks in Xinjiang and elsewhere.
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Luo told a seminar attended by officials and security experts from about a dozen countries that the ETIM was a “core concern” in China’s counterterrorism efforts.
A senior official from Xinjiang’s regional government last week hailed Beijing’s success in stamping out violence in the far western region, saying there had been no terrorist attacks in the past four years.
Selcuk Colakoglu, director of the Turkish Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies in Ankara, said Turkey’s coalition government was likely to face “a huge reaction” from both opposition parties and its own supporters if it went ahead with ratifying the extradition bill in parliament.
“During the recent Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Turkish people delivered a huge show of support for Azerbaijan for the sake of Turkic solidarity, and the AKP-MHP government also enjoyed this public support for its backing of Baku,” he said.
“The government could face huge pressure from the Turkish public with the accusation of ‘sacrificing the fellow Uygurs’, if it tries to approve the bill in the parliament.”
Reports that Ankara deported exiled Uygurs, some via Tajikistan, to China both this year and last caused an uproar among the Turkish public, Colakoglu said.
But ratifying the extradition treaty might be regarded by Beijing as a precondition for further Chinese investment in Turkey, which Ankara desperately needed to revitalise its struggling economy, he said.